The family of George Floyd and their attorneys praised the indictment of Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis cops on federal civil rights charges during a press conference Saturday.
The three-count indictment released Friday alleges the officers Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane “willfully deprived Floyd of his constitutional civil rights” in his May 25, 2020 death in Minneapolis.
Attorney Ben Crump was joined by George Floyd’s brother Rodney and nephew Brandon Williams, alongside Texas Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, near the Cuney Homes area where Floyd grew up.
“We believe these charges … encourages future generations to know that our Department of Justice will be here to make sure that all of American citizens are afforded their constitutional rights of life and liberty and equal justice,” Crump said Saturday.
Rodney Floyd said Attorney Merrick Garland called the family personally to announce the charges.
“Yesterday we received a phone call from the Attorney General and you could hear the sincerity in the voice,” Floyd said. “You could tell he was very hurt and moved by my brother’s death and the police officers’ conduct. It put a smile on our faces, just hearing how touched and moved he was, he was going to give it his all.”
“That call — it meant the world. We were grateful for it,” Williams said. “If you saw that video, it was self explanatory. We all know it was a murder and torture in broad daylight … In a sense this was for America.”
Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee praised the indictment, saying news of it “moved her to tears.”
“I was stunned, I was moved to tears, when the federal indictment came out because I’ve known the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and others who suffered without justice,” she said. “You cannot engage in bad police conduct under color of law with impunity and get away with it.”
She declared the “major decision” could shed new light on other cases of police brutality.
“In cases like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin … this opens the door for at least having the ability to bring these cases to the justice department and ask for reconsideration on new facts, new precedents in the law,” she said.
“We want justice for George Floyd but we also want justice for all the potential George Floyds,” Congressman Al Green said. “I cannot tell you what this means to me I am 73 years old and I’ve been waiting on this for a lot time.”
The indictment accused Chauvin of using “unconstitutional, unreasonable force” by placing his knee on Floyd’s neck and back that resulted in Floyd’s death. Thou and Kueng knew that Chauvin was kneeing on Floyd’s neck but “willfully failed to intervene,” the indictment stated.
The indictment further accused all four of depriving Floyd’s rights when they saw him lying on the ground “in clear need” of medical care, but they failed to render him aid and acted with “deliberate indifference.”
Chauvin, who was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, on April 20 in Floyd’s death, was also named in a second, separate indictment filed Thursday for deprivation of rights under color of law for allegedly violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old in 2017.
The indictment said “Chauvin, without legal justification, held” the teen “by the throat and struck Juvenile 1 multiple times in the head with a flashlight.” Chauvin is also accused of holding “his knee on the neck and the upper back of Juvenile 1 even after Juvenile 1 was lying prone, handcuffed, and unresisting.”
The Justice Department said Friday’s indictment is separate from its recently announced and still ongoing civil “pattern or practice” investigation looking into the policing practices of the entire Minneapolis Police Department.
The three other officers involved in Floyd’s death are awaiting trial. After appearing in court Friday morning over the new federal charges against them, all three were released on $25,000 bond.
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